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ciations of heaven, they presented considerations of false comfort.
Now this superficial healing of souls is an immense injury. In the first place, it deludes the patient. Because the acuteness of the suffering is gone, and there is comparative ease, the poor patient fondly cherishes the idea that he is all but convalescent. He expects that soon his pulse will throb with health, and his limbs move vigorously as ever ; whereas all the while the disease is gaining ground, the tide of life is ebbing fast, and death is at the door. By false doctrines and priestly pretensions, the moral alarms of men may be hushed, the conscience may sink to a temporary composure, and the soul may cherish hopes of a blessed immortality; but it is all a delusion. The dead calm is but the cradle of the storm. But not only does the superficial healing injure by deluding the patient, but by wasting the restorative season. If the right
were adopted at once, the curative forces of kind nature would contribute to restoration. But so long as the disease is there, the healing influences of nature are of no avail. So long as men indulge the delusive idea that all is right between their souls and God, they will not avail themselves of the provisions of the gospel, and they allow their day of grace to die away unimproved.
There is an apprehension amongst thoughtful men in the Christian Church, that the modern pulpit, even when it is sometimes most active, is doing only a very superficial work. That pulpit is doing a superficial work which reaches no further than the mere sensibilities of the audience. Material representations of divine truth may be rendered exceedingly attractive to the more sensuous part of human nature. Words falling in rounded periods and melodious tones on the ear, whether they convey thought or not, are ever pleasing; pictures well drawn of virtue or vice, sorrow or joy, Sinai or Calvary, Heaven or Hell, and presented to the eye of the imagination, whether they embody truth or not, will tell potently on the mere sensibilities of the audience, and exercise a potent charm. But all this, which will ever be popular, is a superficial work. The soul is something more than nerves. That pulpit is superficial which merely works on the hopes and fears of men ; which represents religion as prudential rather than obligatory, a means to an end, rather than the highest end itself, which frightens by hell and soothes by heaven. This is popular; men like excitement :-but it is sadly superficial. If nothing more is done, injury has been done. Religion is not hope or fear; it is love. Were there no heaven or hell, it would be a beautiful and a binding thing. That pulpit is superficial which deals merely with the intellect; which does nothing but inform the judgment, charm the reason, and develop thought. Though this is an important work for the pulpit to do, it is so unpopular and so rare, that a word of caution is scarcely necessary. But it is superficial nevertheless. Unless something more is done, nothing effectual has been accomplished. In one word, that pulpit is superficial which fails either to generate supreme love to the great God, in hearts where it is not, or to strengthen it in hearts where it is. The pulpit that does this work, is the only pulpit worth having, as we shall endeavor to show in our next homily on this all-important subject.
As the pulpit is for obvious reasons, immeasurably, the most important institution of society, it is the duty of every philanthropist, to seek the removal of its abuses. The reformation of a corrupt pulpit is a greater and more needful work than the reformation of an unrighteous government.
“ Times may be so sick,
(To be continued in our next.)
The Genius of the Gospel.
ABLB expositions of the Gospel, describing the manners, customs, and localities alluded to by the inspired writers; also interpreting their words, and harmonizing their formal discrepancies, are, happily, not wanting amongst us. But the eduction of its widest truths and highest suggestions is still a felt desideratum. To some attempt at the work we devote these pages. We gratefully avail ourselves of all exegetical helps within our reach; but to occupy our limited space with any lengthened archæological, geographic, or philological, remarks, would be to miss our aim ;which is not to make bare the mechanical process of scriptural study, but to reveal its spiritual results.
SECTION SIXTY-FIFTH :-Matt. xix. 13–15.
“Then were there brought unto him little children, that he should put his hands on them, and pray: and the disciples rebuked them. But Jesus said, Suffer little children, and forbid them not, to come unto me : for of such is the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them, and departed thence.”
SUBJECT :-Christ and Little Children.
This seems to me one of the most glorious passages in the glorious biography of the glorious Redeemer of our race, Even the most brilliant of His miracles do not impress me so much with the sublime as this. As I look at Him in this, the most stirring, period of His history, with the dark events of His last agonies thickening on His horizon, condescending to take little children in His arms and bless them, I feel deeper chords in my nature touched than when I see Him hush the furious tempest, or raise the buried dead.
In this passage there are four pictures, which, if we look at, and earnestly and devoutly study them, will not fail to exert a most salutary influence upon the soul.
I. THE PICTURE OF WELL-DOING PARENTS.
“ Then were brought unto him little children”—Luke says “ infants,”– “that he might put his hands upon them, and pray.” It was
customary among the Jews of old to lay the hands on a person's head on whose behalf a prayer was offered. When Joseph brought his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, to his father Jacob for his farewell blessing, the dying patriarch put his hand on the head of each in pronouncing his benediction ; Gen. xlviii. 14-20. “The imposition of the hand," says Bengel, " and more particularly of the hands, was employed for conferring on, and propagating to, human beings, especially children and ministers of the gospel, bodily blessings and spiritual gifts. See Acts xx. 12; Heb. vi. 2; 1 Tim. v. 22; 2 Tim. i. 6.” The origin of this custom I cannot divine. Did it arise from the recognition of a power which certain modern biologists maintain belongs to human nature, of one man being able to transmit to another, through the agency of the hand, a portion of his own vital energy? It
may be so. Life is too mysterious, and modern revelations are too wonderful, to authorize any one dogmatically to deny the existence of such a power. Undoubtedly there are ways by which one man can affect another, of which at present we know absolutely nothing. Thoughtful men therefore will be modest how they pronounce on such subjects. The question, however, is, Who brought these little children to Christ for this purpose ? Undoubtedly the parents. It is true we are not told so in so many words, but we are left to infer the fact as a matter of course. Who else would do so ? Now look at those parents bringing their children to Christ, and see in that act the highest privilege and the most binding obligation of every human parent. What they did is the duty of all who have children. We may look at the act of these parents in two aspects
First: As the wisest service of parental love. It is the instinct of parental love to desire and seek the welfare of their offspring. This is what all parents, worthy the name, are doing every day. This instinct is one of the great springs in the complicated and ever-acting machine of social life. It is true that very different methods are employed for the purpose. The love of some parents employs means that must
inevitably prove ruinous to their children. Foolish parental love has entailed ruin upon millions. It really damns the dear objects it longs and strives to bless. My position is that what these parents did, is the wisest course for parental love to pursue, in promoting the happiness of its object. You cannot do anything so well for your children as bring. ing them to Christ; nay, you cannot do anything that can become a substitute for this, anything in sooth that can be of any true service without this. This is the essential thing. In the first place your children have minds which will soon be starting anxious questions which Christ alone can satisfactorily solve. Questions must of necessity start within them about their own natures, relations, duties, and destiny ; about God, the great universe, and the wonderful future. The questions which have come to all men, What am I? Whence came I ? Whither am I tending ? How shall I be just with God? If a man die shall he live again! will come to them, and stir the soul with agony. Who shall give the answer ? Sages? Priests ? oracles? No, the world has tried these for ages without success.
Sages after sages strove
Christ alone can respond satisfactorily to them.